He wasn’t arrogant but he was disingenuous. He understands that he’s presided over a massacre in his party, but he’s not willing to fundamentally alter his agenda. That was the message that came through. He’s sad so many good Democrats lost and wonders, oh gosh, is there something I could have done? (Hmm. Not spill so much red ink? Not pass an unpopular health-care bill?) He’s willing to show the American people that there can be consensus, but he’s only interested in tweaking ObamaCare. Because, no one wants to see them all re-argue the same old stuff. OK, on one level, it’s head-shaking. But what did you expect?
He takes responsibility for not overseeing quicker growth, but seems clueless or defiant about the connection between his policies and the anemic recovery. He says he got a shellacking. But why? What, you thought he’d admit that health care was loaded with taxes, mandates, and fees that have freaked out employers? Puleeze. The most he is going to do is the sort of non-apology apology: I can see why the voters were upset. You know, it might look like they were guilty of overreach.
This is a man convinced of his own wisdom, who has just been knocked to the canvas by the country. So if he looked more lost than usual, somewhat subdued, and gave an entirely unintelligible answer on the extension of the Bush tax cuts (something about taking money out for the middle class), you can understand why. For the first time in his professional life, he’s experiencing a massive failure and rejection. Did he bring this entirely on himself? Of course. Is he capable of doing more than changing atmospherics? I didn’t hear that today. But then, he’s yet to talk to what’s left of the Democratic Senate and House contingent, who might be a wee bit nervous about his political judgment.
The most telling point: Obama looked crestfallen and fell into campaign nostalgia when asked if the election didn’t reflect on his disconnect from the American people. The best word to describe him is forlorn. I can’t imagine his base is going to be thrilled with the down-in-the-dumps presidential demeanor. But the good news is that after calling us scared and unreasoned he concedes that the American people are decent. It’s a start.